Don't worry, I'm not going to get all self-righteous in this post. I am completely aware that I could probably do more to give back. The reason I decided to write this post, is that I often get asked why I participate in the volunteer and/or fundraising activities that I do. I intend on making this a bit of a "series" as I am involved in a few causes that I am absolutely passionate about, so I'll focus on one for each post.
In 2005, I started working for the Canadian Cancer Society. That statement, in itself, is why many people assume that I chose and continue to choose to support this organization. But it's so much more than that.
During my time working for the Cancer Society, I got a truly "behind the scenes" look at the hard work that goes in to delivering the programs and services that the Canadian Cancer Society offers. "But what do they do for OUR community?" That's a question I hear all the time when I'm fundraising. Each province has some programs that are unique to the needs of their province. Here are some examples of the fantastic work they do in New Brunswick:
Eat Well Be Active - a 6 week program led by a registered dietician that focuses on healthy eating and physical activity. This program has been offered in various communities all over New Brunswick, in French and English. This program covers topics such as fad diets, good fats and bad fats, fiber, vitamins and nutrients, eating well in a restaurant, and much more. Participants receive lots of information through presentations and handouts. The sessions allow for lots of questions and discussion, and you get the expertise of a Registered Dietician. The best part - it's all FREE! For more information about when and where this program is offered, check out www.eatwellbeactive.ca
SunSense - a school-based program designed to teach children in grades 1 to 3 about staying safe in the sun. This program was designed with the help and feedback of teachers to ensure it met their teaching needs. Teachers are provided with a kit with flexible options to present this program, including a script, powerpoint presentation, suggested presentation methods, a CD-ROM with tools, handouts and activities for the children and materials that can be sent home to parents. One of the most popular parts of this kit are the supplies provided to make UV bracelets. These bracelets feature some special UV beads that change colour when exposed to UV light. How cool is that?! The Cancer Society contacts each school every Spring to offer this program to teachers. If you know a teacher that has a grade 1, 2 or 3 class that has not heard of this program, please share the information. The kits are free! These kits are also available to recreation centers in the summer time.
Cancer Information & Support - This is a "2-prong" program. This program is associated with a toll free number where you can go and get Information and or Support. For the Information Service, you are connected with an "Information Specialist" who can answer any questions you may have related to cancer. Whether you want to know common side effects of chemotherapy, or perhaps you have questions about BPA, the Information Sepcialists are there to help you.
Through the same phone number, there is also an option for support. This peer-to-peer emotional support program is designed for cancer patients and their caregivers. Whether you have been diagnosed yourself, or are a caregiver for someone with cancer, the staff at the Peer Support program can match you with a specially trained volunteer who has had a similar cancer experience - similar diagnosis, treatment plan, etc. This way you can truly talk to someone who's "been there".
Cancer Information & Support is available across Canada and can be accessed through their toll-free number, 1-888-939-3333 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cancerconnection.ca - If the phone is not your thing, try linking up with people via the message boards at www.cancerconnection.ca. There you can chat with cancer survivors, cancer patients, families of people with cancer, cancer information specialists and more! There are also interesting blogs to read.
Practical Support - A cancer experience can be stressful, and the last thing someone needs on top of a diagnosis is to worry about additional costs that come up after a diagnosis. The practical assistance program has a few pieces to it: 1 - Travel assistance - as this suggests, this piece of the program assists with the costs of travelling to cancer treatments/surgeries; 2 - Equipment program - Assists with the cost of renting up to 2 pieces of equipment through Easter Seals NB; 3 - Exceptional assistance - to assist with other costs that come up as a result of a diagnosis. Anyone interested in this program should complete the application form, which can be found here: http://www.cancer.ca/~/media/cancer.ca/NB/support%20and%20services/support%20and%20services/Supportivecareprogramsandservicesapplication-NB-EN.pdf
Wigs and Headwear - The Cancer Society has 5 offices in New Brunswick (Edmundston, Bathurst, Fredericton, Moncton and Saint John), and each of these offices has a room where wigs and other headwear can be viewed and tried on. All of these items are brand new, and available in various styles and colours. It is all free of charge. There are some additional locations that these items can be acquired, as well as by calling their office at 1-800-455-9090 or email email@example.com I took a trip down to their office in Saint John, NB, to browse through their collection.
This is a picture of their client room, where people can come and try on wigs, read through information, access the Canadian Cancer Society website, www.cancer.ca, or chat online at www.cancerconnection.ca, or they can even call in to the Cancer Information & Support program.
Then, the wigs. These are fantastic quality and beautiful styles. I even decided to try on some myself.
NB Masons Camp Goodtime/JLP - Each summer, the Canadian Cancer Society offers a camp for children with cancer. This camp is for children ages 7 to 16 and is held at Camp Rotary in Grand Lake. The children are also invited to bring a friend or family member (again, aged 7 to 16) with them. The camp is for 1 week, and is free of charge. There is an Oncology nurse on site, as well as additional nursing staff. Children do need a "signoff" from a doctor indicating they are healthy enough to handle going to camp. Once there, children get to participate in all kinds of activities: campfires, canoeing, swimming, arts and crafts and more!
This is just a sample of some of the work done by the Canadian Cancer Society. There is much more I could say, but what I encourage is to check out www.cancer.ca and have a look at the information there. You can also get more information about how you can get involved.
Aside from all of these fantastic programs, I have a much more personal reason for being involved. I have had family members diagnosed with cancer, but nothing was a bigger shock than when my dad was diagnosed in September 2011. This was a devastating blow to my family. My dad, a jogger, kayaker, community activist, mentor and friend to many, was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Typical survival for this type of diagnosis is 3 to 6 months. Due to advances in treatment, clinical trials and my dad's willingness to try anything and everything, we were able to have 1 year and nearly 7 months after his diagnosis. I cannot express what this time meant to me and my family. During this time, I truly began to realize the impact of the Canadian Cancer Society's programs, advocacy efforts, information and research. When my dad passed away on April 6, 2013, my determination to continue the fight against this horrible disease was strengthened. That is why I continue to support this organization.
I will be participating in Relay For Life, the premiere fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society, on June 14 in Saint John. Please see my fundraising page for more information about why I participate, and consider sponsoring me in this event. (Sidenote- I will be "live-tweeting" from this event, so be sure you follow me on Twitter: @Zumba_KatieNB)
Want to share information about a non-profit you're passionate about? Did you volunteer at an event or for an organization that was rewarding/inspiring/amazing/fun? Share in the comments below!